For years Natasha Bunby battled with her weight, but her multiple sclerosis diagnosis was the catalyst she needed to take control of her diet.
Weight-loss wonder Natasha Bunby is Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant 2020. Natasha, 38, shed an amazing 11st 1lb after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. What’s more, she’s maintained her weight loss for seven years, keeping healthy and active while being a wheelchair user.
Natasha, who lives in West Sussex with her husband Marc, 51, and sons Deon, 18, and London, 12, says her weight problems started after the death of her best friend when she was 16. Turning to food for comfort, she admits she was a classic emotional eater for much of her life.
Natasha had experienced problems with her legs since she was a teen, but doctors thought this was due to the trauma of losing her friend.
Years later, Natasha woke up one night to find she had lost all function and feeling from the waist down. She went to hospital where doctors diagnosed secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
During her six-week hospital stay, Natasha’s mother took her and the two boys to a nearby park. ‘There was a slope that led down to the park and my mum lost control of the wheelchair,’ says Natasha. ‘I ended up stuck in a bush and – because I was too heavy for my mum to manoeuvre the chair – she had to ask a passer-by for help.’
‘The experience itself was embarrassing enough. But, when my eldest son Deon asked me how we’d ever go out as a family if I was too heavy to be pushed in a wheelchair, it broke my heart. I knew I had to do something about my weight as I wanted to do all I could to help my health.’
When Natasha saw a Slimming World leaflet drop through her letterbox in March 2011, it was the catalyst for change.
Despite feeling nervous, Natasha joined her local Slimming World group, and says, ‘I was overwhelmed by kindness from everyone in the room. At the time I was a size 28 and spent most of the time just wanting to hide. However, I knew deep down that I also wanted to do something for myself and take back some control.’
‘Food Optimising was so adaptable for family life because we could all enjoy the same meals like roast dinners, curries and burgers. I just prepared and cooked everything differently. I was a bit of a ‘jar girl’ before, so cooking from scratch was a real eye-opener for me. It’s just a way of life now and I couldn’t imagine living any differently.’
Within 18 months, Natasha slimmed down from 21st 7lbs to a healthy 10st 6lbs and was feeling much more positive about her weight after swapping her bad habits for healthy Slimming World recipes.
‘When I began my journey, I was still fairly mobile, she says, but now I can no longer walk. My house and car are fully adapted which maintains my independence, and I’ve managed to keep the weight off because Slimming World truly does work for everyone whether you are able-bodied or not.
Wanting to inspire others who thought they’d never be able to lose weight, Natasha decided to become a Slimming World Consultant.
‘I have lots of support from my family, she explains, ‘and two wonderful venues that are fully wheelchair accessible. I absolutely love being a consultant and seeing members change before my eyes. It’s a wonderful feeling – in fact it’s the best job in the world!’
Before joining Slimming World, Natasha admits she was very inactive, yet since losing weight has found several ways to stay fit and maintain her size 12 dress size, including Slimming World’s activity programme Body Magic.
‘I don’t let anything hold me back. I attend a gym that is fully wheelchair accessible and use the upper body machines to keep myself feeling fit.’
As well as being a Slimming World Consultant, Natasha models for Zebedee Management, an agency working for people with disabilities and visual differences.
Natasha says: ‘I feel so proud to be named Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant for 2020. It’s not often that you see someone like me in newspapers or magazines and I hope that by winning this competition I can show that Slimming World works for everyone.
‘There’s help out there for people who want to lose weight no matter what their situation is. I’m living proof that it works for everyone – and that it works for life.’
Natasha’s typical menu before joining Slimming World
Lunch: Lunch from a bakery along with a cake and a packet of crisps
Dinner: Microwave meal or something made with a jar of sauce
Natasha’s typical menu on the Slimming World plan
Breakfast: Overnight oats made with fat-free natural yogurt and fresh fruit
Lunch: Jacket potato with salad
Dinner: Roast dinner, curry cooked from scratch or homemade Slimming World-style burger and chips
Evening snack: Fruit